Plaintiffs Settle First Group of Wright Metal-On-Metal Hip Lawsuits for $240M

After a hard-fought, almost 5-year battle in federal court in Atlanta, Georgia and in California state court, we are pleased to announce a settlement program that will resolve a significant number of claims against Wright Medical.  Wright Medical has agreed to settle approximately 1,300 claims of certain Wright Medical metal-on-metal hip implant patient-claimants whose hips were revised at least 150 days and no more than eight years post-implant.  There are approximately 2,300 pending claims involving Wright Medical’s Conserve, Lineage, and Dynasty metal-on-metal hips.  Plaintiffs’ Leadership Counsel’s retained financial analysts have been evaluating Wright Medical’s ability to settle these cases for years. Based on that analysis, we believe that Wright Medical was not in a position to and therefore could not agree to settle the remaining claims involving revisions occurring after eight years or other cases that it deemed not qualified at this time.  During the negotiations with Wright Medical, it was made clear that claims for revised Wright metal-on-metal hips that are not included in this settlement will be part of subsequent settlement programs. 

The Wright Conserve Multi-District Litigation (MDL) was consolidated in February 2012 in federal court in the Northern District of Georgia before the Hon. William S. Duffey, Jr., United States District Judge. Additionally, a Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding (JCCP) petition was approved in May 2012 before the Hon. Jane Johnson, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, consolidating California state-court cases involving Wright Medical hip replacement and revision matters, including Wright Medical’s Conserve, Lineage, and Dynasty hip implants.  The Hon. Diane M. Welsh (Ret.), led the extended settlement negotiations and tirelessly worked with the parties for several years to help facilitate the settlement.

Wright Medical’s hip and knee division (OrthoRecon) was sold in January 2014, and the successor corporation has a defense that it did not inherit the liability.  Our financial analysts’ review further indicated that Wright Medical’s ability to fund this settlement depended largely on insurance coverage and a bond issue used, in part, to raise money for this settlement.  Wright Medical has been engaged in litigation in Memphis with most of its insurance carriers and recently finalized an agreement with 3 of the carriers.  It remains in litigation or coverage disputes with its remaining carriers.  In light of our analysis of Wright Medical’s financial condition, this is a timely and meaningful settlement, offering $170,000 to claimants who had the monoblock Conserve Cup, the device with the most frequent failures, and $120,000 to those who had the metal-liner Dynasty and Lineage devices.  An additional, but capped, limited fund is also available for claimants who suffered discrete and defined claims of extraordinary injury.  More importantly, the settlement program calls for pre-qualification, without registration, coupled with a very simple administrative process for claimants not pursing extraordinary injury claims that will lead to expeditious payments expected to be largely complete by summer 2017.  Counsel for eligible claimants will be notified of their pre-qualification by February 3, 2017.

Plaintiffs’ Leadership Counsel consists of Raymond P. Boucher of Boucher LLP in Woodland Hills, California, / 818-340-5400; Michael L. McGlamry of Pope McGlamry, P.C. in Atlanta, Georgia, / 404-523-7706; Helen Zukin of Kiesel Law in Beverly Hills, California; Peter Burg of Burg Simpson in Englewood, Colorado; Christopher Yuhl of Yuhl Carr, LLP in Marina del Rey, California; Sean Jez of Fleming Nolen & Jez, L.L.P. in Houston, Texas; and Ellen Relkin of Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. in New York, New York.




Lead in Drinking Water: Class Action Filed by Fresno Families

Boucher, LLP has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of residents of Northeast Fresno, California, alleging that the City of Fresno, California and private contractors caused dangerous levels of lead and other toxic substances to leach into their water supply. The lawsuit asks for a jury trial. As an ABC News affiliate reports:

The plaintiffs allege that in 2004, the City of Fresno changed the residential water supply from groundwater to surface water, altering the water chemistry despite clear warnings from consultants who said the change would result in pipe corrosion, causing lead to contaminate the city’s drinking water. 

Thousands of Northeast Fresno area residents were further affected when, between 2008 and 2012, the city and their private contractors installed water meters on properties, improperly connecting brass meters to galvanized piping. The brass to galvanized piping connection violated industry standards, accelerating corrosion of pipes that increased the risk of lead contamination.

When complaints of discolored water first surfaced from the community -- beginning as early as 2004 -- the city and other governmental agencies ignored them. Instead of investigating and finding a solution, the City of Fresno assured residents that their water was safe. Yet, the city failed to test the water and ignored its responsibility to report the complaints to the State Water Resources Board as required. 

The EPA standard for lead in water is 15 parts per billion (ppb). According to city testing, forty percent of Fresno homes tested had water that exceeded the acceptable level. The EPA says* lead exposure, especially in children, can lead to damage of the nervous system, hyperactivity, lower IQ, learning disabilities, impaired hearing and anemia. In rare cases, exposure to lead in water can cause seizures, coma and potentially death. Pregnant women and their unborn children are also at risk for “slow or low growth” of the baby or premature birth.

Diminished home values are also a concern. In court documents, the residents allege lead contamination has substantially decreased the value of their homes, diminishing their residential investment and making it difficult to sell their property. They have sustained other economic damages as well, paying the city for contaminated water while purchasing bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

On behalf of tens of thousands of affected Northeast Fresno, CA residents, the class action complaint asks the Court to require the city to solve the water treatment plant problems, and abide by its duties to residents to, among other things, provide clean and safe water.

The class action also names as defendants the City of Fresno, the City of Fresno’s Department of Public Utilities, and private contractors retained by the city. 

Read the Complaint here

Read news articles about the lawsuit herehere, and here